Women's Day: Mumbai schools gift girls sanitary napkin vending machines

The machines, which operate on Rs 5 coins, have been installed in girls’ restrooms of a few schools that aim at upping menstrual hygiene and lowering dropout rates

Girls will no longer need to ask classmates for a sanitary napkin in hush-hush tones. On the eve of International Women’s Day, some schools in Mumbai have decided to install sanitary napkin vending machines called ‘Napi Vend’ in girls’ restrooms.

A sanitary napkin vending machine at Rotary Sanskardham Academy, Goregaon
A sanitary napkin vending machine at Rotary Sanskardham Academy, Goregaon

Lata Nayak, principal of Rotary Sanskardham Academy in Goregaon, told mid-day, “This has been a long-pending recognition for this basic need. It is very comfortable for girls as they just have to put a Rs 5 coin in the machine and get a sanitary napkin instead of looking for it all over the place.”

Rotary Sanskardham Academy is a school for children with special needs. “Parents of these children are already very sensitive about them. Many times these girls don’t know about their menstruation cycle and aren’t prepared. With vending machines here, they can easily manage surprises too,” she added.

Schools are responsible for maintaining their machines and refilling them regularly. Yogesh Patel, trustee of Vivekanand School and Junior College, Kandivali, said, “Institutions should have sanitary napkins since they are not comfortable asking for it. Presence of this machine in their toilets will leave no room of any embarrassment.”

Earlier Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had accused the government of not providing this service to girls. Shalini Thackeray, from MNS’ women’s wing, said, “This topic has never been spoken about and there have been regulations regarding providing this facility in institutes of higher education but it has been ignored. There is already a lot of unawareness regarding the use of sanitary napkins during menstruation being hygienic. If it becomes available in educational institutions and girls get used to it, the picture will change. It is the government’s apathy that this need has never been looked into.”

Educationists feel this might also help girl students from dropping out of school or even better their attendance. Educationist Heramb Kulkarni, who has been working on drop out rates in schools appreciating the new trend, said, “Discomfort during menstruation has been one of the major causes behind girls dropping out of schools, especially in rural areas. I feel this kind of awareness must be spread across the state and the government should take this initiative.”

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